Is there a better modern holiday than Thanksgiving? I think not. It’s low stress time with family, friends, food, and football. It’s also reliably on Thursday, giving you the optional four day weekend.
Having hosted Thanksgiving for fifteen years now I will also make the claim that there are hidden business lessons you can extract from the strategy, planning, execution, and enjoyment of a good Thanksgiving dinner.
Maybe that’s a stretch, but I love Thanksgiving and this is a business blog, so here goes:
1. Turkey Wrestler – Every Thanksgiving morning you’ll find me wrestling that turkey, trying to get it in the oven on time, often after a fun (late) Thanksgiving eve out with friends. I’m not even a mediocre cook, but I’ve become competent with the traditional Turkey dinner and I’ve grown to enjoy the Thanksgiving ritual.
Business Lesson: Sometimes you should force yourself to break your patterns and take on a new project or role in your company temporarily. You will gain perspective, skills, and satisfaction from the exercise.
2. Green Bean Casserole – A lot of family members bring things for dinner. Sometimes that means we end up with two green bean casseroles. My wife tries to head off this calamity with some coordination ahead of time. But if it happens, who really cares…
Business Lesson: In business, if you spend all of your time judging what others bring to the table, you’ll end up being miserable and judgemental all the time. Everyone contributes something positive. Try spending more time being thankful for each person’s positive contributions.
3. Prep Ratio – Thanksgiving dinner involves hours of preparation followed by a half hour of people scarfing down food before your gramps is snoring on the couch and your uncle is chugging beers and yelling at the football game.
Business Lesson: For any major work presentation or event, you should expect a four to one or higher ratio of preparation to delivery if you expect it to be good. Embrace and enjoy the preparation.
4. Deadlines Are for Turkeys – Despite my best attempts at planning dinner for a certain time, it still seems like I’m left staring at that turkey popper or obsessively checking the meat thermometer. The timing is never quite right, but it’s never that far off either.
Business Lesson: In a deadline obsessed business world, sometimes it’s ok to step back and relax a bit about minor deadline misses. In the end people remember a good dinner much more than that it was a half hour late.
5. Tradition – We don’t do much experimenting on Thanksgiving, but everyone still seems to enjoy it.
Business Lesson: The business world has shifted into hyper-paranoid-change mode. I usually like rapid change, but you don’t need to change everything all the time. Some things just work, so let them alone.
6. Togetherness – The thing I like most about Thanksgiving is that it’s just a reason to get together and have fun with no high expectations or gifts exchanged.
Business Lesson: Sometimes you should just get together with colleagues, coworkers, acquaintances, and employees for no reason. Temporarily turn off the time management cost benefit calculator that’s constantly running in your mind and just enjoy the time.
That’s all I have. Now I’m going to go stuff a turkey, stuff myself, and enjoy time with family and friends.
Lastly, I’m truly thankful for everyone who reads my ridiculousness each week, probably more than you know. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!